A couple of years ago I made one of the most significant changes in my life that a man will ever make...
I decided to find a new place to get my hair cut. For a long time I went back and forth between a chain hair salon and having my wife cut my hair. Every time I went to the hair salon I would come home and have to fix all the mistakes they made. Every time my wife cut my hair, we would end up in a big fight. It wasn't because she did a bad job. It was because I was picky and wanted her to cut it a certain way, and she saw it as an opportunity to express her creativity. My wife and I rarely fight, but we both realized that her cutting my hair probably wasn't the healthiest thing for our marriage... (I love you Madison - insert smiley face emoji here).
So I decided to look around for a new place to get my hair cut. I ended up at the Vandalia Barber Shop, which was one of the best decisions I've ever made. In my time there, I've not only experienced great hair cuts and potentially saved my marriage (insert winking emoji here), but I've also learned a few things about ministry from the barber shop, and I've shared them below.
1. Quality Matters.
The first time I went to the barber shop, I was apprehensive. I hadn't been to a barber shop since I was a kid. My only memory of my childhood barber shop was that everyone got the same hair cut, no matter what you asked for. So I wasn't sure how the hair cut would turn out this time around. When I sat down in the chair, one of the young barbers asked me what I wanted. I told him, and then he went to work. He was very meticulous. It was the most detailed hair cut I'd ever had. He did a fantastic job. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the hair cut. It wasn't until after the hair cut was over that I decided if I would come back. At the end of the day, quality matters.
This is true for ministry too. It's one thing to get new people to walk through our doors. People come to churches for all sorts of different reasons. But the decision to come back is most often based on the quality of the experience. A lot of people coming into a church for the first time are going to have the same apprehensions I had about the barber shop. They may even have bad memories from a previous experience with another church. The best way to help them get over those apprehensions is to offer them a quality experience. This doesn't mean it has to be perfect. But it does mean you have to take what you are doing seriously.
2. Customer Service Matters.
It was on my second visit to the Vandalia Barber Shop that I decided this would be the place where I'd get my hair cut indefinitely. You see, on my first visit, the owner, a young 20 something-year-old named Holden, greeted me when I walked in, shook my hand, introduced himself, and asked me my name. On my second visit, a little over a month later, as I walked in Holden greeted me by saying, "Hey Chris, welcome back!" Now let me be clear, this place is busy. Every time I go, there are at least a few guys waiting for a hair cut. They always have at least three chairs running, and typically it's four. I would imagine they are giving hundreds and hundreds of hair cuts a month. Yet Holden remembered my name after one visit, and I'm not the only customer he remembers. Just about every regular that comes into the shop is greeted on a first name basis. Holden does his best to meet every new customer that comes in the shop as well. He shakes their hand and learns their name. He's not perfect, but he get's the name right within one or two visits, most of the time. He has a gift, and it's pretty incredible to watch.
When it comes to ministry, this is an area where any church can succeed. It's actually an area where smaller churches have an upper hand. And it's an area where we should thrive more than any other business or industry. As the church, our business is people. We aren't in this for money, fame, or personal gain. The only reason why we exist is to reach people for the Kingdom of God and empower them to live into God's calling on their lives. Holden's commitment to knowing his customers by name is convicting to me. There's something powerful about someone learning your name and caring enough to remember it. And it was the number one reason why I decided to keep coming back to the barber shop. Customer service matters.
3. Community Matters.
There was a point, probably about a few months in, where the barber shop started to become more than a barber shop. It started to become a place where I found some community. The atmosphere there is the perfect combination of "old school barber shop" and "fresh, new style." So not only do they give great haircuts, but they also have a great culture. I've grown to know the barbers there pretty well. We all talk and crack jokes and have actually become friends. I know about their families and they know about mine. The shop sits next door to Jim's Donuts. So sometimes when I go to Jim's and grab a donut, I'll stop in to the barber shop just to say hi, even if I'm not getting a hair cut. They have done a fantastic job of creating an environment where people get more than just a great hair cut. They get a great community.
I recently heard a statistic that the number one factor in determining if people will stay at your church long-term is if they have made two or more friends there. If they have, then they will most likely stay. If not, they probably won't. I am seeing a shift in growing churches right now toward a greater focus on fostering community, especially churches that are reaching younger generations. I think this is a good thing. The key here is to not give up on the quality of your experience in the process. I think the truth is that young people want both. They want a great hair cut and a great community.
What area needs the most improvement in your ministry? Do you need to improve the quality of your experience? Do you need to improve your customer service? Do you need to improve your sense of community?
I hope this blog post helps you, whether you are a ministry leader, business leader, or simply looking for a new place to get your hair cut (insert barber's pole emoji here).
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